Once upon a time, I was obsessed with Sleeping Beauty…
Well, that’s kind of a lie – I’m still obsessed with her, from the Classic Disney movie to the fairy tale itself. I remember being in preschool and being so excited when my mom and little sister got me Sleeping Beauty on VHS for my birthday. So, I consider myself a bit of an expert, from the original tale that had an extended ending that involved rape and a mother-in-law who wanted to eat her daughter-in-law and grandchildren to that beloved VHS tape. So, when I heard about a retelling of Sleeping Beauty that focused on the character of Aurora more than the romantic, supernatural things happening around her and whatnot, I knew I had to read this book.
A Wicked Thing is very much a study in the character of Aurora – and I loved it
Aurora is such an interesting character just waiting to be analyzed and mined for so many issues and feelings and THINGS. In some versions, like the Disney version, Aurora is only asleep for a short time – when she wakes up, everyone she knew and loved is still around and she didn’t miss all that much. Of course, in most versions, she’s been asleep for roughly one hundred years or so – everyone she knew has died and the world has changed drastically. Even in the versions that went further than kissing a sleeping girl, there’s generally still a happy ending and we don’t get to see how Aurora deals with all the changes that happened while she was asleep. This book finally gives us that.
Aurora is a volcano, lying dormant until she can’t take the pressure anymore
There is so much pressure on poor Aurora, and even though I wanted to sweep in to give her a huge hug and push away all the mean people around her, it was still so interesting to read about her struggling with the changes in her life and the countless expectations that are pushed on her by so many different people. The peasants expect her to return magic and prosperity to their kingdom; her new prince expects her to be by his side even though they’re strangers and two individuals who need to learn a lot about themselves before even thinking about getting into a relationship; and her future in-laws who expect her to act as a docile figurehead who simply nods at whatever they do so that the peasants stop rebelling so much. We get to see the Queen pushing Aurora around more than her husband, but she gets some sad insight toward the end of the book that makes me want to learn more about her and the way her mind works; the King is the one who really scares me, while also making me feel much too violent for simply thinking about a fictional character. How those two had two wonderful but slightly awkward children, I have no idea. There’s also a neighboring prince who I found amusing and intriguing and Aurora found tedious and much too cocky, but I think we’re going to be seeing more of him in the future, which I love.
This is no happy ending, and things certainly didn’t end with a passionate kiss
I was so happy when there didn’t seem to be a romance in this book, because Aurora certainly isn’t in a position where she can even think about romance – she needs to figure out who she is first. Sure, she gets engaged to the prince who wakes her up simply because he woke her up, but it was never meant to be a real romance; the two could be friends, but they’re strangers thrown together due to duty. A boy does show up, though, and I instantly got sad – no matter how much I might like a romance, Aurora wasn’t ready for one. I won’t give any spoilers, but I will say that I’m pretty happy with the way the possible-romance was handled.
This book had some slower moments for sure, but I never really lost my interest, and that is so important to me. By the end, I was dreading the months-long wait until the sequel, because I just had to see the volcanic Aurora explode into something powerful, beautiful, and awe-inspiring.
Title: A Wicked Thing
Position: Book One in A Wicked Thing series
Author: Rhiannon Thomas
Rhiannon Thomas’s dazzling debut novel is a spellbinding reimagining of Sleeping Beauty and what happens after happily ever after.
One hundred years after falling asleep, Princess Aurora wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince and a broken kingdom that has been dreaming of her return. All the books say that she should be living happily ever after. But as Aurora understands all too well, the truth is nothing like the fairy tale.
Her family is long dead. Her “true love” is a kind stranger. And her whole life has been planned out by political foes while she slept.
As Aurora struggles to make sense of her new world, she begins to fear that the curse has left its mark on her, a fiery and dangerous thing that might be as wicked as the witch who once ensnared her. With her wedding day drawing near, Aurora must make the ultimate decision on how to save her kingdom: marry the prince or run.
Rhiannon Thomas weaves together vivid scenes of action, romance, and gorgeous gowns to reveal a richly imagined world … and Sleeping Beauty as she’s never been seen before.